Garden pond and other water plants
In May 2003, we build a garden wild-life pond. Part of the motivation for the pond site has been searching for and studying native water plants. This page started as a list (made at the end of August 203 - some 14 weeks after filling the pond) of most of the species we had (or at least have put into) the pond. It is now being extended as a listing of British water plants - though that can never be exhaustive, as many plants are quite happy in water or on fairly dry land!
Where the latin name is a link, this gives more detail of the plant.
I have available (or can readily take) photographs of many of these plants. These are indicated by an arrow: . These photos have not all been put on the www site. So if you are interested in them, please ask.
Invasive alien plants
There are several plants which are listed by, for instance, plantlife.org as potentially invasive non-british species. I have three of these in my pond. All are doing well, but are not too invasive. While these are fine as garden pond plants, you should be aware that it is illegal to allow these to be introduced into any natural waters, so dispose of them with care. They are indicated by a cross:
Alien they may be, but in practise I find many british natives can out-compete them - given the right conditions. That's the point - almost any plant, given favourable conditions, can be invasive. Which is why no plant should be intriduced into the wild. But it's odd to see how invasive plants like water soldier and great spearwort can be, considering that they are now rare in the wild.
5th July 2007 - the pond is well established. As time progresses some species thrive and others do not. But many plants are doing very well and need to be frequently weeded out, so are often available. These are indicated by a dot:
The list of plants
- Alisma plantago-aquatica - Water Plantain
An excellent marginal plant.
- Anagallis tenella - Bog pimpernell
June 2004: Not a survivor in our pond: it likes soft water. Burwell is distinctly hard!
- Apium nodiflorum - Fool's watercress
A very common plant which spreads fast and is similar to the (probably) nicer Berula erecta. Also nearly as dominant a thug as Berula erecta, so not to be recommended!
- Azolla filiculoides - Water fern.
A pretty, floating plant - for better than duckweeds! It does well in aquaria, too. It has been introduced to the wild in some places, where it has become a pest, covering the water in a thick, dark layer and cutting off light to bottom growing plants. I have seen this covering some of the dykes near Ely at times.
- Baldellia ranunculoides - Lesser water plantain
June 2004: no sign of this, a year after introducing it.
- Berula erecta - Lesser water parsnip. A very common plant that I can usually obtain.
- June 2004: Doing well after one year and an attractive foliage plant. See photo at foot of the page.
- 2005: Berula erecta it is a rather dominant thug which can apparently displace other species, so not a plant to be recommended! This year various other plants which were mixing fine with it last year are not doing so well!
- March 2006: over winter, we have been weeding it out as fast as we can, which we anticipate will be an on-going task for a considerable time! As the season advances, other plants which did not do well last year do seem to be better off for its absence! It seems to me that Berula erecta would do well as a subject for studying the methods some plant species use to gain dominance over others.
- Butomus umbellatus - Flowering rush.
We introduced a plant in 2004. It was alive, but not flourishing and did not flower in 2005 but now (5th May 2006) there are about 5 stout young shoots, where the original plant has runnered before dying. These look very vigorous and we expect flowers this year.
- Callitriches - Starworts
A difficult group to identify, but it possibly contains some useful pond plants. It tends to like very clean, clear water. I suspect it would not survive with goldfish - they can eat plants! In the wild it's generally found in clean, running water, though I have seen it at Ampton Water, growing emerse - in the wet mud some distance from the water.
- Callitriche brutia - Starwort
- Callitriche cophocarpa - Starwort
- Callitriche hamulata - Starwort
- Callitriche hermaphroditica - Starwort
- Callitriche obtusangula - Starwort
- Callitriche palustris - Starwort
- Callitriche platycarpa - Starwort
- Callitriche stagnalis - Starwort
- Callitriche truncata - Starwort
- Cardamine pratensis - Cuckoo flower or Lady's smock
A good marginal/bog plant. It also has edible leaves, good in salads (if you can collect enough!)
- Ceratophyllum demersum - common or rigid hornwort
- Ceratophyllum submersum - spineless hornwort
- Chara Globularis - Stonewort
- Crassula helmsii - New Zealand Pigmyweed. Not very invasive in our pond, competing with the parrot's feather!
- Elodea canadensis - Canadian pondweed
- Equisetum fluviale - Water horestail
- Equisetum palustre - Marsh horestail
- Fontinalis antipyretica - Willow moss
usually found in fast streams where it anchors to stones. It can also be found on canal locks, anchored to the sides. It also seems quite happy free floating (or sinking!) in lakes and ponds. Currently (June 2005) doing very well in our pond.
- Gymnocoronis spilanthoides - Senegal Tea
5th July 2007. We obtained this as an aquarium plant - it propagates profusely. But it's at its best as a pond plant as it grows to about 1½ metres. It is somewhat frost-tender, but the roots have survived two winters in our pond. I suspect this could, in the right circumstances, be quite invasive.
- Hippuris vulgaris - Mare's tail
- Hottonia Palustris - water violet
Likes soft water. It grows profusely in one of the Quy Fen coprolite pits, which is probably fairly soft, despite being a fen pond. It can be difficult to grow in a garden pond unless the water's right.
- Hydrocotyles - pennyworts
- Hydrocotyle Ranunculoides - Floating pennywort
June 2004: Has now been mostly removed: it's a 'Bill Gates' of a pond plant - American, grows rapidly, is invasive, tends to stifle the competition and is very difficult to remove once installed. True - it has not yet crashed!
It's rightly listed as an undesirable alien in many parts of the world. However as a domestic pond plant, in a situation where it can be easily controlled, it is an excellent addition.. See link for pictures.
- Hydrocotyle vulgaris - Marsh pennywort. Prefers soft water, but is not too fussy.
- Hydrocharis morsus-ranae - Frog Bit. Collected in August 2004, in May 2006 there are about 15 baby plants in my pond. June 2007 - it's trying to take over, but there are lots of other robust plants competing!
- Hypericum Elodes - Marsh St John's-wort
June 2004: Not a survivor in our pond: it likes soft water. Burwell is distinctly hard.
- Impatiens glandulifera - Indian balsam
An import, now spreading along river banks. It will probably soon be listed a an 'undesirable alien'.
- Lemnaceae - Duckweeds
- Lysimachia vugaris - Yellow loosestrife
Not related to yellow loosestrife, but the two often grow together. Yellow loosestrife propagates by runners and is a very pretty plant well worth a place in any garden. However it can be invasive (the runners can extend by 10 - 12 feet in a good year) - you have been warned!
- Lythrum salicara - Purple loosestrife
A beautiful perennial marginal: looks best in a drift. Doing well in our pond but not so well that we wish to loose any, sorry.
- Mentha aquatica - water mint
- Menyanthes trifoliata - bog bean
- Tends to like soft water.
- Mimulus guttatus - Monkeyflower
Rampant: Introduced one plant in 2002 which self seeded in 2003, now everywhere (including the top of the adjacent rockery)!
- Myosotis scorpiodes - Water Forget-me-not
June 2004: Doing well and an attractive foliage plant with pretty flowers.
- Myriophyllums - Water milfoils
On the whole a pretty family of (generally) submerged water plants.
- Myriophyllum aquaticum (Myriophyllum brasiliensis) - Parrot feather
Also another plant listed as an undesirable alien and on many ecological black-lists.
- Myriophyllum alterniflorum - alternate-flowered milfoil.
- Myriophyllum spicatum - spiked water-milfoil
Something of a thug - it can rapidly grow out of control, but a very good oxygenator. It tends to get calcified in hard water, which makes it less attractive. If you plant it in your pond, expect to do frequent thinning out!
- Myriophyllum heterophyllum
- Myriophyllum verticillatum - Whorled water-milfoil
Prettier than Myriophyllum spicatum and not such a vigorous grower.
- Myriophyllum verrucosum
- Nymphoides peltata - Fringed water lily
An excellent small water-lily. See the separate write-up.
- Nuphar alba - White water lily.
The wild ancestor of most cultivated water lilies, which are crosses between alba and other foreign or tropical lilies.
- Nuphar lutea - Yellow water lily or Brandy-bottle.
A lovely plant for large ponds - it grows very vigorously! Usually very easy to obtain.
- Oenanthe group - Water dropworts
An interesting group, some of which make very good water plants, so may be bought in garden centres. They are generally poisonous (as are very many garden plants) - the Hemlock water dropwort being amongst the most toxic of all.
- Oenanthe aquatica - Fine-leaved water dropwort
- Oenanthe fistulosa - Tubular water dropwort
Name derives from the hollow, tubular stem.
- Oenanthe fluviatilis - River water dropwort
- Pedicularis palustris - Red rattle
June 2004: Not a survivor: it likes soft water. Burwell's water is distinctly hard.
- Polygonum amphibium - amphibious bistort.
- Potamogeton crispus - Curled pondweed
- Potamogeton natans - Broad-leaved pondweed
- Potamogeton trichoides - Hair-like pondweed
- Ranunculus - Related to the buttercups. There are lots of water-loving Ranunculus:
- Batrachium ranunculi - the water crowfoots
Quite a difficult family to identify as they inter-breed, so hybrids are common!
- Ranunculus aquatilis - Common water crowfoot
- Ranunculus baudotii - Brackish water crowfoot
- Ranunculus circinatus - Fan-leaved water crowfoot
- Ranunculus fluitans - Water buttercup
- Ranunculus hederaceus - Ivy leafed water crowfoot
- Ranunculus omiophyllus - round leaved crowfoot
- Ranunculus peltatus - pond water crowfoot
- Ranunculus penicillatus - Water buttercup
- Ranunculus trichophyllus - Thread-leaved water crowfoot
- Ranunculus tripartitus - Three lobed water crowfoot
- Caltha palustris - Marsh marigold or king cup. Doing well in our pond, but not so much that we wish to loose some!
- Ranunculus flammula - lesser spearwort
A smaller version of R. lingua which tends to straggle.
- Ranunculus lingua - great spearwort
Often introduced to ornamental ponds. Leaves up to 20cm long. The plant is up to 120cm tall with large (up to 5cm) yellow flowers. It propagates by runners, which can be quite long and can give rise to quite a number of young plants. The seeds and runners tend to start in autumn and large underwater leaves grow slowly over winter ready to start full growth in spring.
- Ranunculus scleratus - celery-leaved ranunculus.
20-60cm high. A marginal plant of marshes and water-sides.
- Nasturtium officinale - Watercress. Very easy to obtain but not at its best as a pond plant.
- Rumex hydrolapasthum - Water dock
A splendid plant - for a large pond only! Grows up to 200cm tall, and almost all of this is leaf!
- Stratiotes aloides - The Water Soldier
- Typha minima - least reedmace
- Veronica anagallis-aquatica - pink water speedwell
June 2004: Not a survivor.
- Veronica catenata - blue water speedwell
June 2004: Not a survivor.
- Veronica Beccabunga - Brooklime
June 2004: In the first year, it went a bit rampant, but has now stabilised.
With all this planting, at the end of one year, the pond margin is rather a splendid sight, and does show what can be done with (almost entirely) indigenous plants. The photo was taken 16 May, 2004. Click on it to download the full size picture!
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Document URI: nathist.torrens.org
Last modified: Mon, 04 May 2020 17:12:24 BST
Page first published 25th August 2003.
Page written and © 2003-2007 by Richard Torrens